I have been doing home improvement projects for decades now. I lost count years ago, but the total number has to be in the hundreds of all shapes, sizes and effort levels. Many times the construction involved tearing into something with only some idea what I was to find. Well, Walabot promises the DIY can alleviate this problem. The DIY is supposedly able to see thru materials and into walls up to four inches thick. When Julie told me about this device my immediate thought was “pure snake oil” but I agreed to see if the Walabot DIY really does work magic. So, let’s see how it goes…
The Walabot DIY is engineered to connect to your smartphone and “see” inside the walls of your house, office or any surface covered in drywall or concrete. The sensor array can penetrate up to 4 inches into walls and locate studs, plastic and metal pipes, and electrical wiring. The Walabot DIY app gives you a visual representation of what it senses behind your drywall, tile, and/or concrete board.
What’s in the box?
- Walabot DIY sensor
- microUSB cable
- Magnetic disc
- Protective plastic sheet
The Walabot DIY sensor and electronics are encased in black plastic and is approximately the footprint of today’s larger smartphones but is about twice as thick. Its form factor is very similar to a standard backup battery. The back of the DIY sensor has a circular magnet embedded into the plastic enabling the device to stick to the back of your Android smartphone. The magnetic connection between the sensor and metal disc could be stronger. The whole time I was using the mated devices it felt like the two could potentially fall apart.
There is a microUSB and a USB 3.0 engineered into one of the bottom end of the DIY device.
Oddly enough, the only operational port on the DIY device is the microUSB part of the USB 3.0 port. Your smartphone powers the DIY via microUSB cable. Once connected, the Walabot smartphone app walks you through the setup process the first time you use it.
Currently the list of compatible devices is somewhat limited, as of the writing of this review, the DIY only works with Android smartphones running Lollipop, Marshmallow, and Nougat with microUSB. Though as noted on the Walabot website the Note 7 and LG G4 are not supported. Julie tried using the DIY with her Nexus 6p and an adaptor to connect the two…it did not work.
Based on their website, it appears Walabot is working on a solution for iPhone users. Along with an iOS app, it would most likely require a specialized microUSB to Lightning cable to power the unit and communicate with your iPhone.
Here is the app interface you see when using the Walabot. You need to calibrate the device before every use. You can toggle between drywall and concrete depending which surface you are trying to see into. You can also switch the interface to see the raw data (seen above) or “pipe” view depending on what you’re trying to see. The app is also able to take snapshots of the screen in operation. The upper right hand graphic affirms the sensor and smartphone are communicating. Below that a depth gauge is showing how deep into the wall the cable, pipe, or stud is.
I tried the Walabot all around the house but ultimately ended up in one of our bathrooms that does a good job illustrating electrical, wood stud, and PEX water pipe beneath both drywall and concrete/tile all within a compact area.
This is what the DIY shows me when looking at electrical wiring running along a wood stud sitting behind 5/8″ drywall in both data and pipe views.
This is what the DIY shows me when looking at a classic wood 2 by 4 stud behind 5/8″ drywall.
This is what the DIY shows me when looking at PEX plastic water piping behind 1/2″ Hardieboard and ceramic tile.
If you watch this video from the Walabot website, it shows how to get it operational and how it is suppose to operate.
I hate to say it, but I find the Walabot DIY a clumsy, mediocre electronic stud finder that requires a semi-dedicated Android smartphone to work with the results not worth the effort. A $20-30 electronic stud finder requires no prep time or hassle to get the job done. I grant you the Walabot DIY can locate water pipes and electrical wiring but anyone with any experience at all would know the approximate location of either in a bust into a wall or demolition type of situation. The DIY is normally $249 but is currently on sale for $199…either way, it’s a relatively expensive (niche) tool that a homeowner may use a handful of times or a professional might never need.
Source: The sample for this review was provided by Walabot. Please visit their site for more info and to order.